Saturday, January 27, 2018

Frederick Douglass on Capitalism, Slavery, and the 'Arrant Nonsense' of Socialism

Frederick Douglass on Capitalism, Slavery, and the 'Arrant Nonsense' of Socialism

Understanding the political philosophy of the abolitionist leader.

Library of CongressLibrary of CongressIn November 1848 a socialist activist gave a speech at the 13th annual meeting of the Rhode Island Anti-Slavery Society. "Mr. Ingliss" began his remarks well enough, reported the abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, who was present to give a speech of his own that day, "but strangely enough went on in an effort to show that wages slavery is as bad as chattel slavery."

Douglass soon became infuriated with the socialist speaker. "The attempts to place holding property in the soil—on the same footing as holding property in man, was most lame and impotent," Douglass declared. "And the wonder is that anyone could listen with patience to such arrant nonsense."
Frederick Douglass heard a lot of arrant nonsense from American socialists in those days. That's because most socialists thought the anti-slavery movement had its priorities all wrong. As the left-wing historian Carl Guarneri once put it, most antebellum socialists "were hostile or at least indifferent to the abolitionist appeal because they believed that it diverted attention from the serious problems facing northern workers with the onset of industrial capitalism." The true path to social reform, the socialists said, was the path of anti-capitalism.

But Douglass would have none of that. "To own the soil is no harm in itself," he maintained. "It is right that [man] should own it. It is his duty to possess it—and to possess it in that way in which its energies and properties can be made most useful to the human family—now and always."
Douglass had no patience for socialism because Douglass championed the set of ideas that have come to be known under the label of classical liberalism. He stood for Lockean natural rights, racial equality, and economic liberty in a free labor system. At the very heart of his worldview was the principle of self-ownership. "You are a man, and so am I," Douglass told his old master. "In leaving you, I took nothing but what belonged to me, and in no way lessened your means for obtaining an honest living." Referring to his first paying job after his escape from bondage, Douglass wrote: "I was now my own master—a tremendous fact." For Douglass, that tremendous fact of self-ownership necessarily included both the freedom to compete in the economic marketplace and the right to enjoy the fruits of his own labors.
Unsurprisingly, Douglass's individualistic, market-oriented definition of liberty put him at odds with the socialist creed.
The abolitionist-turned-socialist John A. Collins offers a telling contrast. A one-time colleague of both Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, Collins went on a fundraising trip to England on behalf of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in the 1840s and returned home a devotee of the English socialist George Henry Evans. The "right of individual ownership in the soil and its products," Collins declared, are "the great cause of causes, which makes man practically an enemy to his species." Collins came to think that private property was the root of all evil.
He didn't remain much of an abolitionist after that. "At antislavery conventions," the historian John L. Thomas has noted, "Collins took a perfunctory part, scarcely concealing his impatience until the end of the meeting when he could announce that a socialist meeting followed at which the real and vital questions of the day would be discussed."
Perhaps the most significant left-wing attacks on the abolitionists at that time came in the pages of The Phalanx, a journal devoted to spreading the ideas of the French socialist Charles Fourier. "The Abolition Party," The Phalanxcomplained in an unsigned 1843 editorial, "seems to think that nothing else is false in our social organization, and that slavery is the only social evil to be extirpated." In fact, The Phalanx asserted, the "tyranny of capital" is the real evil to be extirpated because capitalism "reduces [the working class] in time to a condition even worse than that of slaves. Under this system the Hired Laborer is worked to excess, beggared and degraded... The slave at least does not endure these evils, which 'Civilized' society inflicts on its hirelings."
No wonder why Frederick Douglass thought the socialists were speaking arrant nonsense. He knew slavery firsthand, and he had no doubt that free labor was infinitely superior to it.
Ironically, when it came to making arguments against free labor, the socialists and the slaveholders made certain identical claims. For example, the South's leading pro-slavery intellectual, the writer George Fitzhugh, argued that free labor was "worse than slavery" because it simply meant that the capitalists were free to exploit the workers. The idea that "individuals and peoples prosper most when governed least," Fitzhugh wrote, was nothing but a lie: "It has been justly observed that under this system the rich are continually growing richer and the poor poorer." As for the pro-market writings of John Locke and Adam Smith, Fitzhugh sneered that they amounted to "every man for himself, and Devil take the hindmost."
Douglass took a different view. For example, taking a page from Locke's notion of private property emerging from man mixing his labor with the natural world, Douglass pointed to the many labors performed by black Americans as clear evidence that they were entitled to the full spectrum of natural rights. "Is it not astonishing," Douglass declared, "that, while we are plowing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses...[that] we are called upon to prove that we are men!" Douglass's writings and speeches rang out with the very classical liberal tenets that were spurned by both the socialists and the slaveholders.
Today Frederick Douglass is best remembered as a giant of the abolitionist cause. That is as it should be. The destruction of slavery was his life's work, and he deserves to be honored and remembered for it. But as the above history also makes clear, Douglass deserves to be recognized on another front: namely, for being one of the 19th century's most eloquent critics of socialism.

SF shipyard soil samples manipulated or falsified, report says

SF shipyard soil samples manipulated or falsified, report says

By J.K. Dineen

January 26, 2018 Updated: January 26, 2018 8:04pm

Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

The site of the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard is eventually slated to have more than 12,000 housing units and millions of square feet of retail and office space.

A preliminary inquiry into fraud in the cleanup of the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard found that nearly half of soil samples in two swaths of the 491-acre property had been fraudulently manipulated or falsified, according to a draft of the report.

The draft “radiological data evaluation findings report,” completed in September but not released publicly because it isn’t finished, found that out of 853 “units” tested at the shipyard, 414 were either “suspect” or showed “potential data manipulation or falsification.”

The evaluation, first reported by the real estate blog Curbed, recommends several areas for retesting, which will likely delay for at least a year the transfer of a portion of the property from the Navy to Five Point Holdings, the development group picked more than a dozen years ago to redevelop the former naval shipyard, which is slated to eventually have more than 12,000 housing units and millions of square feet of retail and office space.

In a recent public filing, Five Point said that 90 acres the developer had expected to have transferred by the Navy this year would instead be transferred in 2019 at the earliest.

“Allegations that a contractor hired by the U.S. Navy misrepresented its sampling results at The San Francisco Shipyard have resulted in data reevaluation and governmental investigations and are likely to delay the transfer of the 90 acres that we had expected to receive in 2018,” stated Five Point, adding: “It is possible that delays relating to environmental investigation and remediation could slow the remaining transfers from the U.S. Navy, which could in turn delay or impede our future development of such parcels.”

The delays will force Five Point to reprioritize “our development staging,” said Kofi Bonner, regional president for Five Point.
“We are focusing on designing the first commercial properties within the 28 acres of phase 2 shipyard property that are controlled by the city of San Francisco and Five Point,” said Bonner. “Our goal is to create a continuity that connects the completed homes on the hilltop and the first commercial buildings that we are planning.”

The preliminary report raises new questions about the environmental cleanup group Tetra Tech, which won a $300 million contract to oversee much of the $1 billion cleanup job at the former naval facility.

In June, a coalition of environmental groups filed a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, asking the agency to strip Tetra Tech of its license. On Jan. 18, the groups, led by Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, made a supplemental filing that argues that the preliminary evaluation on soil samples adds even more urgency to the need to hire independent investigators to look into Tetra Tech’s role.

Based on interviews with more than a dozen former Tetra Tech employees, “it is likely the Navy will find additional evidence of fraud.”

“The only way to catalog all the improper sampling and remediation is to locate and interview as many former Tetra Tech employees who worked at the (shipyard) as possible to ascertain their knowledge of Tetra Tech’s fraudulent practices,” states the petition.

Tetra Tech could not be reached for a comment. In a statement on the issue in June, Tetra Tech spokesman Charlie MacPherson said the company “emphatically denies the allegations made by individuals at today’s news conference that Tetra Tech engaged in a cover-up of fraud on the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.”

So far, 300 housing units have been completed at the shipyard, although those buildings are in a portion of the property that was not used for industrial purposes and has been deemed clean by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Navy.

Though the Navy did not return an email seeking comment, it is expected to hold a news conference and community meeting on the information next week.

Almost half of toxic cleanup at Hunters Point Shipyard is questionable or faked

Toxic waste is a HUGE problem for infill housing. Many of the sites were deemed unbuildable before the Housing Developers pushed. Hunters point is an environmental scandal in the making .

Almost half of toxic cleanup at Hunters Point Shipyard is questionable or faked, according to initial review

City’s goals for housing, affordable housing in doubt after fraud at city’s biggest redevelopment project “much worse” than thought
By Chris Roberts@cbloggy Jan 26, 2018, 9:32am PST

Almost half of the work done by the contractor hired by the U.S. Navy to clean the heavily polluted former shipyard at Hunters Point in preparation for the city’s biggest redevelopment project in a century might have been either falsified or is questionable enough to require retesting, an initial review by contractors hired by the U.S. Navy has found.

Contractors and workers with Tetra Tech, a Pasadena-based company with a long history of winning government contracts, were first found to have falsified soil samples in 2012, revelations that led the federal Environmental Protection Agency to halt transfers of shipyard land for development. More accusations of wrongdoing from former shipyard cleanup workers triggered the ensuing review of more than a decade’s worth of data produced by Tetra Tech.

And of that data, more than 48 percent is “suspect” or has “evidence of potential data manipulation or falsification,” according to a series of draft reports compiled by a team of third-party contractors presented to the Navy and obtained by Curbed SF via a public records request.

The findings are still in draft form and have not been publicly released. But they represent only the latest setback at the shipyard, where progress has largely been on hold since 2016, and they do not bode well for the future.

“That’s the best way to put it,” said Kathryn Higley, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at Oregon State University hired as an outside expert on decontamination, who serves as a liaison to the community. “What they have found is a lot of data falsification.”

This development is a vindication for neighborhood activists and environmental watchdogs, who have long claimed public safety and transparency have been sacrificed in order to speed the real-estate development along.
A view of the shipyard from the open areas near the new townhomes and flats at The Shipyard SF. Home prices range from $775,000 for 740 square feet, and $1.5 million for a two-bedroom.

It also casts serious doubt on San Francisco’s ability to meet its current goals for building badly needed market-rate and affordable housing.

The transformation of the former San Francisco Naval Shipyard—home of a Cold War-era nuclear warfare research laboratoryis part of the largest redevelopment project in San Francisco since the 1906 earthquake, according to developer Five Point.

Since the 1990s, at least $1 billion in taxpayer money has been spent in removing radioactive and industrial contamination from the area. As of 2014, Tetra Tech had been awarded contracts in excess of $300 million, NBC Bay Area reported.

Spokespeople for the Navy and the real-estate developer at the San Francisco Shipyard, Five Point, declined to comment on the findings. Five Point is closely associated with mega-developer Lennar, which negotiated with the city the development plan for the shipyard.

Local elected officials, city bureaucrats, and Bayview-Hunters Point community members tasked with observing the cleanup would not comment.
“What they have found is a lot of data falsification.”

Environmental watchdogs have petitioned the federal government, asking for the contractor, Tetra Tech, to have its license to conduct such cleanup projects revoked.

They are also repeating earlier calls for the cleanup to be held to a higher standard.

“We are pleased and feeling vindicated that the government agencies that helped cover upthe radioactive scandal at the shipyard now seem to be admitting that the problem is greater than they ever admitted before,” said Bradley Angel, executive director of Greenaction, a nonprofit that’s been closely monitoring the cleanup since the 1990s.

“It’s been bad news, and it’s the ultimate, ‘We told you so,’ but the problem is people are living next to it,” he added. “They still plan on building thousands of homes there.”

Areas of the former shipyard, including the most toxic sites, are also at risk of becoming inundated by the bay due to sea-level rise, observed Angel, whose group wants the cleanup held to a much higher standard.

“San Francisco Bay is going to swallow the contamination that they plan on leaving there unless something changes.”

Chris Roberts@cbloggy

I feel like this would be the creepiest building in SF even if it weren't used for secret military tests
2:22 PM - Aug 5, 2017 · Hunters Point Naval Shipyard
33 Replies
Twitter Ads info and privacy

A privately owned drydock and boatyard taken over by the Navy during World War II, the shipyard has been responsible for major changes in the city’s demographic and economic makeup.

The promise of wartime and Cold War-era jobs drew thousands of people to the southeastern corner of San Francisco, many of them black.

When the Navy vacated the shipyard in 1974, thousands of middle-class, single-earner, union jobs vanished. By nearly every account, this caused an economic crisis from which the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood has never fully recovered.

Demands to replace the shipyard with another source of jobs and opportunity began well before the last aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered submarines left.

Transforming the more than 400 acres of docks, workshops, test-sites, and landfills into the hub of a new neighborhood with more than 2 million square feet of office space and more than 12,000 homes is a mammoth undertaking that has already spanned decades and attracted international attention—and investment.

The project has proved high-profile enough to attract renown architect Sir David Adjaye, who designed the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, to be its master designer.

So far, property developer Five Point Holdings, an affiliate of Miami-based homebuilding giant Lennar Corporation, and the self-described “largest developer of mixed-use communities in coastal California,” has built and sold about 300 townhomes and condominiums at what it has dubbed the “The SF Shipyard.”

Homebuyers are praised as “visionaries” buying into a “bold” future, with the promise of bars, restaurants, and shopping where empty lots and forbidding, rusting industrial buildings stand today.

Some of the area’s industrial heritage is incorporated into Adjaye’s design elements, but when selling The SF Shipyard, Lennar does not emphasize what made the naval shipyard such a vital military base: A nuclear warfare research lab, an endpoint for ships irradiated during hydrogen bomb tests, and a general waste dump in an era when radioactive material like radium was treated like common garbage.
A view of an area where soil has been removed and tested for cleanup. Nearly half of areas like this at the shipyard show evidence of potential data manipulation or falsification, according to an initial review.

This contamination was serious enough for the area to be listed in 1989 as an EPA Superfund site, the government’s official list of the country’s most toxic areas that pose a risk to the public.

Fulfillment of the developers’ vision—and further transfer of former shipyard land from the Navy to Five Point—has been on pause since September 2016, after Tetra Tech, the firm contracted by the Navy to do the cleanup, was found to have faked at least part of its work.

Following Tetra Tech’s admission of swapping soil samples, a $7,000 fine from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that was waived on appeal, and a promise that all was well from the company, more former Tetra Tech workers and contractors once employed at the shipyard stepped forward in 2017 and alleged that fraud at the site was more organized and more widespread than the company admitted.

Subscribe to our Newsletter
Enter your email addressGO
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy and European users agree to the data transfer policy.

Those revelations triggered a review of all of Tetra Tech’s data to date. The ensuing review by third-party contractors hired by the Navy found almost half of Tetra Tech’s work dating back at least a decade is “suspect,” according to draft findings prepared for the Navy and obtained by Curbed SF via a public-records request.

Out of 853 discrete tested “units” at the shipyard—lengths of trench, areas of soil, or buildings—414 were identified as “suspect” or showing “evidence of potential data manipulation or falsification,” and have been recommended for retesting, the draft report found.

The findings do not apply to the areas of land already developed where people are currently housed. Those areas were used for base housing or other non-research, non-industrial activities, and have been declared safe by the EPA and the Navy.

Michael Clinebell, a spokesman for Five Point, directed all inquiries to the Navy.

In SEC filings, the company said that it could be until 2022 that all of the next 90 acres are transferred, “although it is possible that delays relating to environmental investigation and remediation could slow the remaining transfers” even further.

“We currently anticipate that we will close land sales for over 2,000 homesites between 2019 and 2022” at the shipyard and at nearby Candlestick Point, the company said in filings. “We are also working on plans for approximately 1.0 million sq. ft. of vertical development, including office space, a hotel, and retail space expected to be built by 2022.”

In an e-mailed statement, a spokesman for the Navy declined to comment on the findings, calling them “incomplete” until “comments” from the federal, state, and local environmental agencies can be received.

“The Navy must take this quality assurance step to ensure public confidence in the data evaluation process,” said Derek Robinson, the Navy’s environmental coordinator responsible for overseeing the cleanup.

Findings are expected to be finalized and published ahead of a public meeting scheduled for January 31.
David Anton (left) points to a map of the shipyard at a June press conference announcing a petition asking the federal government to revoke Tetra Tech’s license to perform environmental cleanup. A later review prepared for the Navy found issue with nearly half of the work done by the company.

The Navy also declined to estimate how much longer the cleanup would take or how much longer the project would be delayed in light of the years of work that must be redone—but, according to the draft findings, it could be many years.

The work done by Tetra Tech deemed suspect was done over a period ranging from 2005 to 2016, according to the review.

In addition to retesting the Tetra Tech work deemed suspect, the Navy will likely redo even more of the cleanup work presently considered clean out of an abundance of caution.

“Because it is impossible to determine whether every instance of potential data manipulation or falsification has been identified, the Navy recommends additional surveys and sampling beyond the areas with evidence of data manipulation,” according to the draft report, authored by contractors Battelle, Cabrera Services, CH2M, Perma-Fix Environmental Services, and SC&A Environmental Services and Consulting, and reviewed by Oak Ridge Associated Universities and Argonne National Laboratory.

The finding means a delay of at least another few years, and raise questions about the project’s long-term viability. But whether or not the project is scaled back, any delay seriously threatens the city’s ability to produce enough housing to keep up with demand, and also jeopardizes the city’s affordable housing goals.

The 12,000 units at the shipyard were a key part of the late Mayor Ed Lee’s promise to build or rehabilitate 30,000 housing units by 2020. A civil grand jury report from 2014 notes:

Having close to 40,000 units “entitled”, or approved by Planning, is extremely healthy for achieving the 30K goal. [...] It is important to note that just three projects, Hunter’s [sic] Point/Candlestick Redevelopment (10,500 units), Treasure Island ( 7,800 units) and Park Merced (5,860 units) represent over 60% of the entitled units.

There are also 1,844 units of affordable housing planned for the site.

For years, community and environmental activists have accused the Navy, its contractors, and various regulatory agencies—including the federal EPA and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control—of prioritizing real-estate development and speed over health and safety.

“We always knew it was much worse than the Navy admitted,” said Steven Castleman, an attorney and associate law professor at Golden Gate University School of Law’s Environmental Law and Justice Clinic, and lead attorney in a petition filed with the NRC to revoke Tetra Tech’s license.

There’s no question the “fraud” was organized and directed from above, rather than the independent actions of a few rogue employees, Castleman told Curbed SF in an interview. “The question is, how high up does it go?”

Immense political pressure has been applied to the shipyard project, which involves some of San Francisco’s most powerful and influential figures. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and then-Mayor Gavin Newsom were the chief proponents of a 2008 voter initiative okaying the development project, with the promise that it would create “8,000 permanent jobs” and “up to 2,500 affordable homes.” It won by an almost 2-to-1 margin.

Another competing ballot proposition that would have guaranteed 30 percent of the homes at the shipyard remain permanently affordable was opposed by Sen. Feinstein and Newsom. It failed.

Shipyard backers have gone as far afield as China to lure investors to contribute the estimated $8 billion needed to develop the shipyard with the promise of EB-5 visas, in which entrepreneurs and investors can receive a green card in exchange for capital.

Last summer, investors with Golden Gate Global, an EB-5 fund involved with the shipyard, were treated to a catered lunch at the park overlooking the shipyard. Investors munched on tacos and salsa from Nopalito, while a message from former Mayor Willie Brown thanking them for their business played on a big-screen television.

The video made no mention of the clean-up’s many, ongoing problems, or the vestiges of the area’s toxic, radioactive past, including the buildings still deemed too unsafe for habitation, many of which are visible from the park.

Initial results from the data review were presented to city officials and representatives from the developer Five Point last June, according to documents obtained by Curbed SF via a records request.
One of many advertisements for new homes available at The SF Shipyard.

In the months since then, elected officials and city bureaucrats have proven reluctant to discuss the ongoing saga at the shipyard.

An aide for Supervisor Malia Cohen, a Bayview native who represents the area, did not respond to requests for comment after Curbed SF shared documents detailing these findings.

Deirdre Hussey, a spokesman for Acting Mayor London Breed who fulfilled the same role for the late Mayor Ed Lee, said the office would have no comment.

Tamsen Drew, who oversees the shipyard for the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, a quasi-state agency that took over from the abolished Redevelopment Agency, did not respond to requests for comment.

And Veronica Hunnicutt, a prominent figure in Bayview Hunters-Point who chairs the shipyard’s “citizens advisory committee,” an unpaid panel of community members to whom Navy and EPA officials occasionally report, also declined to comment.

“I can tell you that we have been told that this matter is under investigation, and the Navy will respond to the Tetra Tech matter and to the CAC and other parties when their investigation is complete,” she said in an email. She did not respond when offered results from the investigation.

“The best way to say it is, the amount of resampling that needs to be done is more than they had thought,” said Amy Brownell, an environmental engineer with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, which is observing the cleanup. “But nobody can give you an exact number. That’s what these reports are debating.”

The Navy and the various regulatory agencies are currently determining how much more retesting or additional work will be needed, said Kathryn Higley, the nuclear scientist from Oregon State University.

In the meantime, officials with the EPA and other agencies have assured potential homebuyers, as well as worried workers at the nearby Candlestick State Park and from the San Francisco Police Department, which maintains an evidence warehouse at the shipyard, that the shipyard is safe and a wise investment, according to emails obtained by a public records request.

Most of the radiation at the shipyard was in 28 miles of sewer and storm drains, down which various waste was dumped between the 1940s and 1974, when the Navy vacated the shipyard.

Ships returning from the Pacific Ocean and Operation Crossroads, when the U.S. military tested the most powerful nuclear weapons in its arsenal at Bikini Atoll, docked at Hunters Point, where they were “cleaned” by sandblasting. Radioactive materials were frequently disposed of by dumping down the drains.

From the 1940s until the late 1960s, the shipyard was the site of the Navy’s Radiological Defense Laboratory. Researchers injected animals with various doses of radiation, including uranium and plutonium, to ascertain the effects of exposure to nuclear weapons and resultant fallout on living things. The Navy believes there is a “possibility radioactive waste material” from those tests were also dumped down sinks and drains.

The shipyard was also home to several waste dumps and scrap heaps, into which toxic or radioactive material like dials and gauges painted with glow-in-the-dark radium paint were unceremoniously tossed. In addition to cancer-causing radionuclides, there is toxic contamination from heavy metals, petroleum byproducts, paint thinner, pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls, a lubricant banned in 1979.

Much of this waste will remain in place on-site, covered by a concrete cap and separated from the nearby bay tides by a concrete wall. Critics, including Greenaction, say contamination from the dumps has seeped into the bay, which will inundate the disposal sites in coming decades thanks to sea-level rise.

The full scope of the shipyard’s pollution problems wasn’t known until a Navy review was published in 2004. And it wasn’t until 2006 that the Navy began a “time-critical removal action” to reduce “exposure to radioactive contamination for surrounding populations and nearby ecosystems, including the nearby wetlands and the San Francisco Bay.”

By then, women living in Bayview Hunters Point were experiencing rates of breast and cervical cancer far higher than other parts of the city.

There’s no shortage of health hazards in the neighborhood. Two freeways bisect the area, which contains most of the heavy industry left in San Francisco. Until a decade ago, PG&E operated a gas-fired power plant within a stone’s throw of housing.

To this day, neighborhood residents complain of disproportionate ill health. Many blame the toxic contamination at the shipyard, and declare this concentration of pollution in a traditionally low-income community of color “environmental racism.

For purposes of cleanup and redevelopment, the shipyard has been divided into alphanumeric parcels. Strict rules govern what can be built on the most polluted areas of the shipyard. Some areas are off-limits to schools, hospitals, and other uses that might attract children or pregnant women. On others, residents are forbidden from digging in the soil or planting vegetable gardens. Still others—like the former landfill—are reserved for sporting fields, and can’t be used for housing or retail.

Why the cleanup was not sufficient

On each parcel, the length of sewer or storm drains were divided into “trench units.” Dirt pulled from the trench units and used as backfill were designated as “fill units.” Each “unit” could contain hundreds of thousands of individual soil samples.

The Navy first discovered alleged wrongdoing at Parcel C, the pier where ships returning from Operation Crossroads were docked. Here, the Navy found “significantly higher concentrations” of contaminants than initially reported by Tetra Tech.

Out of a total of 200 trench units, fill units, and buildings sampled at Parcel C, there is “evidence of potential data manipulation or falsification” at 134 of them, according to the third-party review of Tetra Tech’s data.

At Parcel E, where some of the Navy’s early radiological testing was conducted, and where the Navy later spilled a large amount of cesium, 104 of tested “units” have been recommended for retesting.

On Parcel G, the ratio of verified clean samples to samples that need retesting is almost 40-60: 76 units recommended for retesting to 96 samples deemed clean.

Significantly, in late 2016, even as evidence of fraud was mounting, the Navy argued that Parcel G should be cleared for residential use, not just use as retail or office space.

Tetra Tech is alleged to have faked data in several ways. According to the draft report:
When “sufficiently low levels of contamination were not obtained,” Tetra Tech would fetch samples from a “different area known to have lower radioactivity, and reported as having come from the location being investigated”;
When Tetra Tech found samples or data dirtier or more radioactive than EPA-mandated levels of safety, they were discarded;
Instead of sampling areas with known radioactivity, they would collect samples from nearby areas, and pass those off as coming from the radioactive location;
When low levels of contamination were not “obtained,” they would simply “move 5 to 10 feet in another direction” to collect clean dirt;
Machines used to screen material were ran at a speed too fast to detect radiation;
And soil known to be dirty was blocked from being sent to the offsite lab for testing.

In an ironic twist, Tetra Tech was so sloppy that it also performed unnecessary cleanup work on areas that were clean, according to the draft report. The draft report states that a device used to detect radium at the shipyard was “consistently biased high,” and so areas that did not need cleanup were scheduled for “remediation.”

Retesting will involve either a review of archived soil samples, a review of the data or methods, or—in most cases—another trip out to the shipyard to pull new soil samples and test them, according to the draft report.

That may not be enough to satisfy some shipyard critics like Castleman and the watchdogs with Greenaction, who say that all of Tetra Tech’s work is suspect and must be redone in order for there to be public confidence in the cleanup, as well as a scientific foundation for the hard sell to the public of the shipyard as safe and clean.

As recently as 2015, the shipyard was described in the San Francisco Chronicle as “once-toxic.” And Olson Lee, the director of the city’s office of housing, referred to the area as a “former Superfund site,” despite the shipyard still being listed on the EPA’s list of the country’s most toxic areas and growing evidence that it was still unknown if the shipyard was no longer toxic.

“We hope that this new investigation will lead to a much better cleanup of this radioactive and toxic mess,” said Greenaction’s Angel. “Lennar and Five Point have friends in high places, right in City Hall. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but the facts are clear: our government agencies worked with corporate developers to attempt to minimize an enormous radioactive and toxic waste problem that needs to be addressed.”

Friday, January 26, 2018

Black Neighborhoods in Los Angeles are getting SHAFTED by Urban Planners

GOOD NEWS!: The League of California Cities Takes Action Against Senate Bill 827

GOOD NEWS!: The League of California Cities Takes Action Against Senate Bill 827

Good News!  The League of California Cities is taking action against Senate Bill 827.

The League of California Cities is an association of California city officials who work together to enhance their knowledge and skills, exchange information, and combine resources so that they may influence policy decision that affect cities.

Below is an ACTION ALERT email the League recently sent out to their members, calling upon them to oppose the bill.  They attached a copy of the bill and a sample opposition letter.  If you scroll all the way down to the end of the email, you will find a list of talking points.

This is a very encouraging development.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Nancy Hall Bennett" <>>
Date: Thu, Jan 25, 2018 at 6:46 PM -0800
Subject: ACTION ALERT: SB 827 (Wiener) Planning and Zoning - Density

Members of the North Bay Division:

Below you will find an Action Alert regarding SB 827 (Weiner) which would exempt certain housing projects from locally developed and adopted building height limitations, densities, parking requirements, and design review standards.

Attached to this email you will find a sample oppose letter and the text of the bill.

Please contact me with any question or concerns.

Thank you for you advocacy, Nancy

Nancy Hall Bennett
League of CA Cities
(415) 302-2032


SB 827 (Wiener) Planning and Zoning - Density


Background: SB 827 (Wiener) would exempt certain housing projects from locally developed and adopted building height limitations, densities, parking requirements, and design review standards.

Specifically, SB 827 would undermine locally adopted General Plans, Housing Elements (which are certified by the Department of Housing and Community Development), and Sustainable Community Strategies (SCS).  SB 827 allows private for-profit housing developers and transit agencies to determine housing densities, parking requirements, and design review standards within one-half mile of a “major transit stop,” or along a “high-quality transit corridor” which could be miles away from an actual bus stop.  Additionally, housing developments within these areas can range in height between 45 feet and 85 feet depending on the desire of the developer.
It is important to note that under existing law, cities are already required to zone for densities at levels necessary to meet their entire Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).
SB 827 is an attack on community based planning and public engagement because developers and transits agencies will get to determine building height limitations, densities, parking requirements, and design review standards.  SB 827 calls to question why cities should create General Plans and Housing Elements if these documents can be dismissed.

SB 827 (Wiener) will be heard in the Senate Committee on Transportation & Housing as well as the Senate Committee on Governance & Finance in the next few weeks.

Please consider these two helpful actions:

1)      Both North Bay Senators Dodd and McGuire serve on the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee.  Further, Senator McGuire is Chair of the Senate Governance & Finance Committee. Please send in a LETTER of OPPOSITION and urge your Senator’s NO vote on SB 827.  Please send your letter via fax (sample letter attached) or may be sent through the League’s Action Centerorg/takeaction>.
2) CALL YOUR SENATOR and urge their NO vote on SB 827.

Senator Scott Wiener (above at Folsom St Fair) is planning to give the Suburbs a whipping with SB827

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Marinwood Park And Rec Meeting "Full Speed Ahead on the Maintenance Park Shed" despite illegal site next to Miller Creek.

New commissioner installed.  44:40 Update on Maintenance Shed proposal. CSD Manager Eric Dreikosen plans to hire architect to create a large building next to Miller Creek despite violation of the Stream Conservation setback requirements, neighborhood objections and the availability of an alternative site.  It appears that an insider with connections to the district is being hired and the contract broken up to allow the manager to evade Government Contract Law.

If you are interested in an outdoor preschool in Marinwood Park, send an email to and

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Save Marinwood CSD from making an EXPENSIVE mistake with the Maintenance Shed

An Open letter to Marinwood CSD/ Parks Commission

Last night at the Marinwood CSD  Parks Commission,  Eric Dreikosen said he was about to spend money for an architect to draw up plans for the Maintenance Shed that is within the stream conservation zone of a 100 foot setback from the TOP of Miller Creek bank.

see page 3   "100' ft setback for parcels greater than 2 acres."

Mr Dreikosen is moving ahead after a preliminary planning session with Tamara Taylor of the Community Development Planning Department .   I called her today to express my concerns due to the closeness to the creek.  She had a faint recollection of the meeting but stated that NO detailed advice had been given as to the suitability of the site.  She hadn't seen the plans.  I asked about the setback requirements and she pointed that the governing law will determine once plans are received.

I request that the Marinwood CSD get ACCURATE and DETAILED advice on the location before commissioning an architect.  It is my belief that NO BUILDING will be allowed due to environmental concerns.  

Why waste the money without knowing if the project can actually be built?

There are multiple concerns with the site from neighbors and local, state and federal regulators. Do you remember the public input meeting in 2017?

The more important issue is the amount of parkland that will be wasted for parking trucks when a much more suitable location is available.

The  currrent location of the park shed could be home to a Nature Preschool which could reap $50k in profits from the first year of operation.  Nature kindergartens are very much a new trend and popping up everywhere.

The only addition to the site would be to construct a small outdoor nature playground utilizing trees and natural materials.
The project could be completed by our staff at a very small cost. 

I believe it will be HUGELY POPULAR with our young families.  We need more capacity for preschool and after school programs and this area is ideally suited for children's play.  We will be proud of being one of the first communities in Marin County with such a program.  Berkeley, Oakland, Mill Valley, Palo Alto have similar programs.

Why waste money on planning a maintenance shed where the neighbors object, the environmental regulators will stop  and where we could have a wonderful program that MAKES MONEY for the CSD?

I urge you to direct Maintenance shed planning to a more feasible site.  I believe that site is next to the fire department with convenient access on Miller Creek Rd and the Office. Other sites may also be available.

If you are interested in an outdoor preschool in Marinwood Park, send an email to and

'Fake News' Is Not an Excuse to Regulate the Internet

'Fake News' Is Not an Excuse to Regulate the Internet

Both Democrats and Republicans are missing the mark when they call for the government to control the flow of information on the internet.

President Trump promised that today he'll announce the recipients of his "Fake News Awards," an honor he's sure to bestow upon unflattering coverage that displeases him, a category that will almost certainly include the book Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff's insider tell-all of life in the Trump White House.
But with "fake news" back in the real news, it's worth reflecting upon how both Republicans and Democrats have utilized the amorphous term to lay the groundwork for the regulation of speech on the internet and why that's a very bad idea.
Shortly after her defeat, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held a press conference decrying the prevalence of fake news on social media, calling it "a danger that must be addressed."

In October of last year, Democrats in both chambers of Congress took up her call, grilling the attorneys for the tech giants Facebook, Twitter, and Google about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and the role of so-called "fake news" in sowing discord and confusion among the electorate.
"You have been identified as major purveyors of fake news," Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told lawyers at one hearing.
Some Democrats were explicit in their threats to regulate the companies if they didn't do a better job weeding out trolls, bots, and fake news.
"You have to be the ones to do something about it," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), "Or we will."
While Democrats seem concerned that tech companies don't do enough to police content on their platforms, Republicans and conservatives have expressed concern that they do too much to cultivate their users' newsfeeds.
"Your power sometimes scares me," admitted Sen. John Kennedy (R-Okla.) at one point during a hearing.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) questioned the social media giants over whether or not they consider themselves "neutral public fora" and cited a study that claimed to have found political bias in Google search results. Former White House adviser Steve Bannon has called for Facebook and Google to be regulated like public utilities, and conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson made a similar case on his show after Google fired software engineer James Damore for writing an internal memo questioning some of the company's diversity policies.
But both Democrats and Republicans are missing the mark when they call for the government to regulate the flow of information on the internet.
Treating social media as some sort of public utility is quite simply a power grab that all but guarantees that politicians and unelected bureaucrats will decide what information should appear in Americans' newsfeeds and would likely grant the government even greater access to our private communications than it already has.
This is not the first time governments have tried to control new tools of mass communication.
Much like the internet, the advent of the printing press provoked panic and backlash among the elite institutions it disrupted.
America's first multi-page newspaper was shut down after a single edition because it spread rumors about the sex lives of government officials and published what the colonial government described as "uncertain reports," or what we might today call "fake news."
For the crime of publishing without a license, the government imprisoned and later ran out of town another early colonial newspaper's editor: James Franklin, older brother to Benjamin Franklin who went on to run that paper and do a few other notable things.
A few decades earlier, John Milton criticized the British government's regulation of materials produced by the printing press, writing in 1644 that, "Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopoliz'd and traded in by tickets and statute." Instead, wrote Milton, better to "Let [Truth] and Falsehood grapple."
Granting government even the slightest control over the free flow of information on the internet under the guise of fighting falsehoods will, ironically, make more difficult the task of discovering truth.